A Central Manager Is Needed To Coordinate the Military Diagnostic and Calibration Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-05-31.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         DOCUMENT RESUME
02332 -   [A1572549]

A Central Manager Is Needed to Coordinate the Military
Diagnostic and Calibration Program. LCD-77-427; B-160682.   ay
31, 1977. 12 pp. + 2 appendices (4 pp.).

Report to Secretary, Department of Defense; by Robert G.
Rothwell (for Fred J. Shafer, Director, Logistics and
Communications Div.).
Issue Area: Facilities and Material Management: Consolidating or
    Sharing Supply and Maintenance Systems (701).
Contact: Logistics and Communications Div.
Budget Function:   ational Defense: Department of Defense -
    Military (except procurement    contracts) (051).
Organization Concerned: Department of Transportation; Energy
    Research and Development Administration; National
    Aeronautics and Space Administration; Office of ManageAent
    and Budget.
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Armed Services;
    Senate Committee on Armed Services.

          The creation of a single, central manager with
 authority over the entire calibration program within the
 Department of Defense (DOD) would be a major improvement in the
management of calibration resources within the Department.
Firnings/Conclusions: The military services use precision
 measuring and test equipment valued at over $1.0 billion to
design, construct, operate, and maintain their facility,
equipment, and research programs. The military services operate
more than 700 calibration facilities worldwide; employ about
9,000 civilian and military technicians; and make over 3 million
calibrations each year. The military facilities can be generally
classified as metrolcgy centers, pimary laboratories, secondary
laboratories, intermediate facilities, and user facilities. The
DOD Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Metrology and
Calibration established a subgroup in June 1975 to consolidate
calibration services. Recommendations: A single manager should
be created within DOD to cover all diagnostic tools,
nondestructive tests, and diagnostic procedures common to more
than one service. The consolidations f the three metrology and
engineering centers, the four primary laboratories, and the many
secondary, intermediate, and user facilities shoul be
considered. The services should be directed to use the nearest
calibration facility which can perform the service most
effectively at the lowest transportation cost. (SC)

              UNITED STA TES

              A Central Manager Is
              Needed To Coordinate
              The Military Diagnostic
              And Calibration Program
              Department of Defense

              LCD-77427                 MAY 31, 1977
                                  WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548



     The Honorable
     The Secretary of Defense

     Dear Mr. Secretary:

          The military services use precision measuring and test
     equipment valued at over $1.8 billion to design, construct,
     operate, and maintain their facility, equipment, and research
     programs.  Such equipment ranges from simple scales to weigh
     packages to multifunctional test sets to measure the opera-
     tional capability of major weapon systems.

          Precision measuring equipment must be accurate, that is,
     calibrated to produce readings comparable to readings from
     devices whose accuracy is traceable to the national legal
     measurement standards. The National Bureau of Standards main-
     tains these legal standards (such as the meter, kilogram, volt,
     and second) and develops methods for making measurements
     consistent with the standards-

           The military services and Federal agencies have developed
     their own calibration systems, consisting of multilevel chains
     of calibration laboratories and other facilities.   The mili-
     tary services operate more than 700 calibration facilities
     worldwide, employ about 9,000 civilian and military techni-
     cians, and make over 3 million calibrations each year.   The
     military facilities can be generally classified as metrology
     centers, primary laboratories, secondary laboratories, inter-
     mediate facilities, and user facilities.   (See the chart of
     calibration systems on the following page.) The National
     Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Aviation
     Administration, the Coast Guard, and the Energy Research and
     Development Administration--four of the major nonmilitary
     users--all maintain their own calibration systems. These
     agencies use precision measuring and testing equipment valued
     a'. $0.9 billion and spend an estimated $42 million annually
     to operate their systems.

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     In the last 10 years, many studies and programs have
been established to improve the coordination of Federal cali-
bration systems and consolidate redundant resources.  Mhost
progress has been made since the Department of Defense (DOD)
Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Metrology and Calibra-
tion established a subgroup in June 1975 to consolidate cali-
bration services.  The subgroup's efforts have been a major
factor in the efficient use of calibration resources.

      We believe that another major improvement in managing
tlese resources would be produced by the creation of a single,
c,'ntral manager with authority over the entire calibration
program, as recommended on page 10.

     In June 1975 DOD responded to our draft report on the
need for a single manager for military spectrometric oil
analysis activities. 1/ The response indicated DOD did not
advocate a single manager for oil analysis primarily because
it was concerned that such action could cause a proliferation
of single managers for each diagnostic tool.

     GAO agreed with that concern and recommended that a
single manager be created to cover all diagnostic tools, non-
destructive tests, and diagnostic procedures common to more
than one service.

     This calibration services study confirms and reinforces
that recommendation.

     Apart from the single manager concept, we believe the
subgroup can produce further coordination of calibration
systems. We are, therefore, bringing to your attention the
following areas which should be considered further in assess-
ing the potential for calibration consolidations:

     -- The three metrology and engineering centers.

     -- The four primary laboratories.

     -- The many secondary, intermediate, and user facilities,
        including the Army's mobile teams.

1/"Single Manager Needed to Obtain Cost and Fuel Savings in
  Spectrometric Oil Analysis Program" (LCD-75-431, Aug. 27,

B-2 60682

In addition, the facilities maintained by civil agencies and
defense contractors should be considered part of the total
U.S. calibration capability.  Better coordination is neces-
sary to be assured of maximized use of calibration capability
throughout the Government.


     According o Office of Management and Budget Cir-
cular A-76, Federal agencies are to rely on the private enter-
prise system to support their needs unless national interest
dictates otherwise. Also, in January 1976 the Assistant
Secretary cf DeEense said the military services should maxi-
mize the pctential for interservicing and consolidating cali-
bration facilities, both in DOD and other Federal agencies.
in the past thy military services and GAO 1/ have made several
studies on the need to consolidate calibraEion capabilities.

     In 1967 the Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Me-
trology and Calibration was es  blished to coordinate the
military services' metrology anJ calibration programs. The
group has worked to promote standardization and uniformity
among the services in such calibration matters as engineer-
ing, training, calibration procedures, and coordination of
support provided by the National Bureau of Standards. Little
attention was given to consolidating duplicative calibration
facilities, however, until the Joint Technical Coordinating
Croup established a subgroup on consolidations in June 1975.

     Calibration technician training is one area which has
been standardized and consolidated.  Since 1969 the Navy and
Marine Corps have saved $200,000 annually by using Air Force
training facilities at Lowry Air Force BasE, Colorado.   In
January 1975, urged by the DOD coordinating group, the Army
also consolidated its technician training at the Air Force
base. The Army estimates this consolidation will save
26 military positions and reduce training costs by about
$400,000 a year. Besides savings, consolidated training
has helped standardize skill levels, calibration techniques,
and terminology throughout the services and has produced
better training equipment and facilities use.

l/"Opportunities To Consolidate Support Functions in the
  Pacific To Reduce Military Cost" (B-160683, May 11, 1972)
  and "Millions Could Be Saved Annually and Productivity In-
  creased If Military Support Functions in the Pacific Were
  Consolidated" (LCD-75-217, Aug. 26, 1975).


     In October 1975 the consolidation subgroup reported
considerable duplication in Hawaii and recommended partial
consolidation of calibration facilities and additional inter-
service support.  Of 24 laboratories, mobile vans, and field
activities in Hawaii, 9 were considered candidates for con-

     The subgroup also studied consolidating calibration
facilities in Europe, but this study was incomplete by the
end of our fieldwork. In addition, the subgroup identified
11 geographic areas in the continental United States and
Pacific which have a high density of military calibration
laboratories and offer potential savings through consolida-
tion and interservicing.  The first of these studies in the
Sacramento-San Francisco Bay area began in June 1976. In
December 1976, after we completed an initial review of the
services' four primary laboratories, the subgroup requested
and received tentative approval for a consolidation study of
the laboratories. We were told the Sacramento-San Francisco
study of lower level laboratories would probably be delayed
pending completion of the primary laboratories study.

     In addition to the subgroup's consolidations work, the
individual military services have also tried to reduce dupli-
cate resources.  For example:

     -- Prior to 1969, the Army activities in Alaska were sup-
        ported by mobile calibration teams from Tooele Army
        Depot, Utah.  By negotiating a support agreement with
        the Air Force, the Army realized savings of over
        $100,000 a year in temporary duty and travel costs.
        Partly because of Tooele's resulting workload reduc-
        tion, an Army study recommended elimination of the
        Tooele calibration facility. The facility was :limi-
        nated in August 1973 with a recurring annual savings
        of more than $1 million.

     -- In 1973 the Air Force studied the potential for con-
        solidating its laboratories at March, Norton, and
        George Air Force Bases, all in southern California.
        The study showed consolidation would save $24,500 to
        $105,400 a year over a 10-year period. Though con-
        solidation was delayed for some time, the March and
        Norton laboratories were being consolidated at the
        end of our fieldwork.



     The Air Force, Army, and Navy metrology centers carry
out many support functions, such as

     -- specifying technician training requirements,

     -- developing calibration procedures,

     -- designing and developing calibration equipment and
        standards, and

     -- establishing calibration intervals criteria.

In fiscal year 1976, the services' three centers had over
400 employees and had operating     - ' about $13 million.

     As discussed earlier, the services have progressed in
consolidating and standardizing their technician training.
The metrology centers' other functions remain as potential
consolidation candidates.  For example, though the Joint
Technical Coordinating Group has tried to standardize cali-
bration procedures used by the three centers, only standard-
ization of formats and an exchange of information have re.-
sulted. Thus, the centers continue to triple overhead costs
for preparing separate procedures and using different stand-
ards and test equipment to make the same measurements.

     The three centers also use different criteria in setting
calibration intervals (the frequency at which equipment is to
be calibrated).  (See app. I.) As a result the services
calibrate similar pieces of equipment at different intervals.
The Joint Coordinating Group has studied the need for stand-
ardizing calibration intervals but does not have the authority
to require using standard intervals.


     The military services operate four primary standards
laboratories, employing over 250 personnel and having facili-
ties and equipment worth about $33 million. During fiscal
year 1976 these laboratories did about 26,000 calibrations at
a cost of over $7 million.

     Although the laboratories' measurement capabilities are
quite similar, interservice support during fiscal year 1976
was less than 5 percent at each laboratory. The laboratories
have relatively stable workloads because they support secondary


standards laboratories' equipment periodically. The following
table shows each laboratory's fiscal year 1976 workload and
excess capacity as estimated by laboratory officials:
                             Number of    Estimated
                 Number of    calibra-    workload      Excess
   Primary        shifts       tions      resources    resources
  laboratory     operated     FY 1976    on 3 shifts   available

Army                 1         9,098        34,897       25,799
Air Force            1         8,735        81,870       73,135
Navy (western)       1         4,135        12,405        8,270
Navy (eastern)       1         4,208        29,456       25,248

    Total                     26,176       158,628      132,452

     As can be seen, workload capacity far exceeds the work-
load requirement at each laboratory. Three of the four labo-
ratories individually have sufficient capacities to support
the combined workloads of all laboratories. Even though ex-
cess resources exist, the Navy has developed a $6.1 million
proposal for constructing a new western standards laboratory
and the Air Force has proposed a $273,000 expansion of its
laboratory.   Neither proposal considered the excess resources
or the potential for interservicing workloads among existing

Equipment sent long distances when
interservlce support is nearby

     Because the primary standards laboratories provide very
little interservice support, lower level facilities with
similar calibration requirements often send their equipment
long distances to their own service's laboratory. Compatible
resources of the other services are often nearby:


                                                with com-
 Activity           Supporting    Distance      parable      Distance
  suported          laboratory    in miles     capability    in miles

Navy Standards     Navy Western       2,320   Army Stand-       610
Laboratory         Standards                  ards Labo-
(Type II),         Laboratory,                ratory,
Norfolk, Va.       San Diego,                 Huntsville,
                   Calif.                     Ala.

Navy Calibra-      Navy Western       2,160   Army Stand-       495
tion Facility,     Standards                  ards Labo-
Charleston         Laboratory                 ratory
Naval Ship-
yard, S.C.

Edgewood Arse-     Army Stand-          675   Navy Eastern      112
nal, Aberdeen      ards Labo-                 Standards
Proving Ground,    ratory                     Laboratory
Md.                                           Washington,

Yuma Proving       A:my Stand-        1,620   Navy Western      160
Ground, Ariz.      ards Labo-                 Standards
                   ratory                     Laboratory

Inefficient use of
measuementF     qufpent
     Operation of separate but similar laboratories on a one-
shift operation limits valuable facilities use and measure-
ment equipment assigned to each laboratory. We selected
151 similar pieces of measurement equipment used by the
laboratories and asked laboratory officials to estimate the
number of hours the equipment was used.   The following table
shows their estimates of use compared with the total time
available for use on a three-shift basis:

B-. 0682

                 Number of       Approximate     Percent use on
  Laboratory       units         dollar value     three shifts

                                 (000 omitted)

Army                   49            $169              11
Navy (eastern)         21              77              18
Navy (western)         22              82              13
Air Force              59             195              17

    Total          151               $523              15 (average)

We found some items used as little as 1 to 2 hours during a
40-hour workweek.

Duplication in
indirect labor

     The four separate primary standards laboratories employ
indirect labor personnel who perform similar functions. The
following table shows the approximate number of such person-
nel employed during calendar year 1976 and the associated

   Type of         Primary standards laboratories
   indirect             Air                                     Personnel
    labor        Army Force Navy-west Navy-east                   costs

Supervision        4        10          2          3        $     631,522
Administration     5         6          4          2              157,614
Engineering        1         6          2          2              290,288
Other (note a)   (b)        14          1          3              262,721

    Total         10        36          9         10        $1,342,145

a/Includes such personnel as material handlers and production

b/Not identified because the data did not provide clear per-
  sonnel identification.

     Consolidation of primary standards laboratories offers
potential for reducing these costs. As previously noted
three of the four primary standards laboratories have suffi-
cient individual capacities to support the combined workloads.
Air Force officials estimate at least 17 of the 65 positions
could be eliminated if the entire primary calibration workload


was assumed by the Air Force. This would necessitate a
two-shift operation and would yield about $385,000 in annual
savings from reduced indirect labor costs.


     Many worldwide locations have a high density of lower
level calibration laboratories and offer potential for sav-
ings through consolidation and interservicing.  The Joint
Coordinating Group has not evaluated some of these lower
level facilities as consolidation candidates.

     In the Sacramento-San Francisco Bay area, 13 calibration
laboratories nd field activities employ about 540 personnel
and have facilities and equipment worth over $8.6 million.
Three of these are Navy field calibration activities either
at the same location or within 45 miles of other Navy cali-
bration laboratories.

     The Alameda Naval Air Station, for example, houses a
field calibration activity at the same location as a Naval
Air Rework Facility calibration laboratory. Our evaluation
of the two facilities showed that the field activity's work-
load could be assumed by the rework facility's laboratory
without additional storage, material handling, or poduction
scheduling costs.  If this were done, surplus equipment worth
$92,115 could be released for use elsewhere and space vacated
by the field activity, having an estimated replacement value
of $5,761,  could be put to other use. Also, personnel costs
could be reduced over $25,000.

     This situation is not unique to the San Francisco Bay
area. A January 1975 Navy audit reported consolidating three
lower level calibration facilities in southern California with
other nearby Navy laboratories would produce recurring savings
of $227,000 and release $401,000 in duplicative equipment and

     Further examples of lower level consolidation opportuni-
ties are presented in appendix II.


     Each military service has established its own system and
facilities to satisfy common calibration needs.  DOD has rec-
ognized that many facilities are housed together or in close


proximity to each other and has had some success in reducing
existing duplication. However, the services continue to
maintain independent, substantial, and duplicative calibra-
tion staffs, equipment, and facilities. Aside from the sub-
group's work, we found no serious attempts b the services
to maximize calibration cross-servicing. As a result, our
study showed DOD continues to underutilize its resources and
incurs unnecessary costs for transportation, equipment, staff,
and facilities.
     In June 1975 DOD responded to our draft report on the
need for a single manager for military spectrometric oil
analysis activities. The responses indicated DOD did not
advocate a single manager for oil analysis primarily because
it was concerned that such action could cause a proliferation
of single managers for each diagnostic tool.
     GAO agreed with that concern nd recommended that a
single manager be created to cover all diagnostic toolsr non-
destructive tests, and diagnostic procedures common to more
than one service.
     This study of calibratiod services confirms and rein-
forces that recommendation.
     We also believe centralized management of military diag-
nostic and calibration programs would improve coordination
and standardization at substantially less cost. As a first
step, the services' metrology centers and primary standards
laboratories should be evaluated for consolidation.   Such
consolidations, along with central management, would  then
facilitate consolidation of lower level calibration  facili-
ties by geographic areas. In addition, lower level consolida-
tion studies should include consideration of civil agencies'
and defense contractors' facilities.
      In view of (1) inadequate coordination and duplicate
 calibration resources discussed in this letter and (2)man-
 prior recommendation for central oil analysis program
 agement, we recommend that you establish a single, central
 manager for the entire diagnostic and calibration program.
 The staff for the single manager could be drawn from surplus
 staffs identified in the duplicate organizations.


     In the meantime, aind while the single manager concept is
being considered, the subgroup's staff could be expanded to
take more timely advantage of possible savings we have pointed
out, and the services should be directed to use the calibra-
tion facility closest to it which can perform the service most
effectively at the lowest transportation cost.

     As you know, section 236 of the Legislative Reorganiza-
tion Act of 1970 reauires the head of a Federal agency to
submit a written statement on actions taken on our recommenda-
tions to the House Committee on Government Operations and the
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs not later than 60 days
after the date of the report and to the ouse and Senate Com-
mittees on Appropriations with the agency's first request for
appropriations made more than 60 days after the date of the

     Copies of this letter are being sent to the Director,
Office of Management and Budget; the Secretaries of the Army,
Navy, and Air Force; the Chairmen, House and Senate Commit-
tees on Appropriations; the Chairman, House Committee on
Government Operations; and he Chairman, Senate Committee on
Governmental Affairs.

                              Sincerely yours,

                              F. J. Shafer

APPENDIX I                                          APPENDIX I



     Because the military services have established different
criteria to evaluate calibration frequency intervals, they
often calibrate similar equipment at different intervals.
These are the methods used to establish the intervals:

     -- The Navy requires that at least 85 percent of the
        equipment be within the calibration tolerance limits
        at the end of the calibration interval.  In conjunc-
        tion with this policy, the Navy establishes and ad-
        justs calibration intervals by evaluating equipment
        by both model number and serial number.  This tech-
        nique allows one calibration interval for the major-
        ity of similar equipment and variable calibration
        intervals for exception equipment having failure
        rates better or worse than the average similar item.
        An evaluation is also made to measure the costs and
        benefits from shortening intervals for exception
        ecuipment as opposed to procuring replacement items.
        The Navy Metrology Engineering Center has recommended
        modifying intervals based on an Army statistical model
        to allow for an 85-percent average over-the-period
       reliability for general purpose test equipment and
       95 percent for special purpose test equipment.
     -- The Air Force separates equipment into classes by manu-
        facturer and part number. Calibration intervals are
        then assigned by class of equipment. This analysis
        method, unlike the Navy's, is based on the assumption
        that all equipment within a specific class will exhibit
        the same reliability over a given period.
       Data obtained from unscheduled equipment is excluded
       from the evaluation, since the analysis assumes that
       any malfunction is caused by damage instead of normal
       use   While the Air Force requires that at least
       85 percent of the equipment be within the tolerance
       limits at the end of the calibration interval, some
       studies have been made to adjust intervals based on
       the Army statistical model.
     -- Army criteria for establishing calibration intervals
        were changed in early 1976. When the Army's calibra-
        tion system was first established, intervals were set
        in multiples of 90 days to conform to the fiscal

APPENDIX I                                         APPENDIX I

       quarter concept.   Later, mathematical models were
       developed to predict calibration intervals for given
       levels of reliability, and the Army decided to follow
       the Air Force's and Navy's lead in establishing an
       85-percent end-of-period reliability requirement.
       However, the Army has adopted a new statistical model
       and changed its policy to require 75-percent end-of-
       period reliability. Calibration intervals have been
       extended to 120-day multiples.

APPENDIX II                                       APPENDIX II


                   LOWER LEVEL FACILITIES

     Lower level calibration facilities are frequently located
with, or close to, other calibration laboratories and facili-
ties. Some of these facilities are operating below capacity.
In addition, mobile calibration teams often duplicate the re-
sources of nearby fixed calibration facilities:

     -- At the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, a field calibration
        activity has been established at the Combat Systems
        Technical Schools Command a tenant of the shipyard.
        Four calibration facilities within the shipyard's
        organization have estimated surplus capacities of
        50 to 300 percent on a three-shift basis. Although
        some support is provided to the command, greater sav-
        ings could be gained by consolidating the field ac-
        tivity into the shipyard's calibration facil ties.
        A shipyard official estimated incurring no additional
        costs for storage, workload scheduling, or shipping
        and receiving.  Space vacated by the field activity,
        with an estimated replacement value of $11,200, could
        be used for other purposes; and equipment assigned to
        the activity worth $19,500 could be reassigned.

    -- The Navy operates a field calibration activity at the
       Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California.
       The Navy's Western Standards Laboratory and a Naval Air
       Rework Facility calibration laboratory are also at the
       air station. Although a Navy audit group recommended
       consolidating the field calibration activity with the
       rework facility calibration laboratory, the air station
       submitted plans for modernizing the field activity at
       a cost of $155,000.

    -- The Sacramento Army Depot operates seven mobile cali-
       bration teams to support about 25 Army, Army Reserve,
       National Guard, and other military locations in Cali-
       fornia, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. Travis
       Air Force Base, about 50 miles from the Sacramento
       Depot, operates two mobile teams to support Air Force
       activities in California and Oregon.  In addition,
       mobile teams operate nine mobile vans from the Alameda
       Naval Air Rework Facility to provide onsite support
       throughout central California.

APPENDIX II                                       APPENDIX II

     These mobile teams' routes often overlap and some
activities supported are close to another service's fixed
calibration facilities. For example, one Army team from
the Sacramento Army Depot supports the Navajo Army Depot,
Arizona National Guard, and an Army Reserve unit in Arizona.
Luke Air Force Base, within 160 miles of these activities,
has a calibration laboratory which can support all three ac-
tivities at an estimated annual savings of about $8,150.
Also, the Presidio of San Francisco, Oakland Army Base, and
a Marine Corps Reserve training center at Alame 4 a, California,
are supported by another Sacramento Army Depot mobile team.
The calibration laboratories and mobile vans at the nearby
Alameda Naval Air Rework Facility can support these activities
at annual savings of about $28,700.